BMW 1-Series Coupé

The BMW 1-Series Coupé aims to recapture the glory of its ancestor, the 2002. Does it have what it takes?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Coupé is a stylish and welcome addition to the 1-Series range. By offering distinctive looks and an even more driver-oriented chassis, it manages to separate itself effectively from the hatchback models. The 302bhp 3.0-litre powerplant is a masterpiece of engineering, and makes the 135i the fastest BMW not to wear the coveted M badge. Best of all, though, for all its performance the newcomer’s interior remains practical and refined enough for it to be a genuine junior GT.

History is repeating itself – at least, that’s what BMW is claiming. Its new 1-Series Coupé is not only aiming to recapture the spirit of the classic 2002, but its sales success, too.

When it was launched in 1968, the 2002 set a benchmark for performance and style, and helped attract a dyna­mic new breed of owner to the company’s showrooms. Now, nearly 40 years later, this lat­est evolution of the 1-Series has been handed the task of doing the same.

The designers have performed a miracle by grafting on the chiselled coupé rear end. It features new lights and a neat spoiler, while the top-of-the-range 135i model we drove also comes with a diffuser below the bumper and twin exhausts.

At the front, the design is pure 1-Series, and the bonnet and wings are identical to those of the five-door hatch. As with the recently introduced three-door version, it also gets elegant pillarless doors. Inside is a spacious cabin, and even though it’s a coupé, the newcomer is actually fractionally taller than the hatchback models. This means occupants in the two rear bucket seats benefit from ample head and legroom.

Build and material quality is top class throughout, while the car comes generously equipped as standard. Fold the back seats flat, and the 370-litre boot increases to 815 litres.

Out on the road, the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged powerplant dominates the 135i’s driving experience. It offers 302bhp, plus 400Nm of torque from less than 2,000rpm, and provides the car with impressive pace. An electron­ically controlled rear differential helps transfer all this power to the tarmac, and the result is a 0-62mph sprint time of only 5.3 seconds.

To cope with the performance, the flagship Coupé gets M Sport suspension as standard. This sees the car low­ered by 15mm, and so it serves up sharp steering and bags of grip. But while body roll is limited, the ride can become crashy over bumpy surfaces, and the electro-mechanical steering doesn’t provide consistent weight and feel. The excellent brakes go some way to compensating for this, as they deliver powerful stopping performance. As with many other BMWs, they incorporate a hi-tech energy regener­ation function – which helps boost economy and cut CO2 output – as part of the Efficient Dynamics package.

Bosses insist that there won’t be a hardcore M1 to top the 1-Series line-up. But get behind the wheel of this two-door 135i, and you would be convinced the company has already produced it. Although £30,000 is a lot to pay for a small coupé, you’ll struggle to find anything for similar money that can match the performance.

Rival: VW Golf R32 The VW hatch can’t outsprint the BMW, and lacks its prestige. However, the Golf benefits from a grippy four-wheel-drive chassis – and it’s £5,000 cheaper, too.

Most Popular

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Coupe

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911

How perfect timing led a Porsche 911 fanatic to buy back his old car
14 Oct 2021
New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates
Ford Focus ST Line - front
Ford Focus Hatchback

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ford has given the Focus hatchback a refresh for 2021, with a new design and an improved infotainment suite
14 Oct 2021
New Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 2021 review
Skoda Kodiaq SportLine - front
Skoda Kodiaq SUV

New Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 2021 review

The seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq SUV gets styling tweaks and tech upgrades in facelift
15 Oct 2021